7/22/ 16: Here’s an excerpt from today’s posting by the National Security Archive in Washington, DC, under the banner of Operation Crossroads 70 Years Later:
“Seventy years ago this month a joint U.S Army-Navy task force staged two atomic weapons tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, the first atomic explosions since the bombings of Japan in August 1945. The first test, Able, took place on 1 July 1946. The second test, Baker, on 25 July 1946, was the most dangerous, contaminating nearby ships with radioactive fallout and producing iconic images of nuclear explosions later used in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. Documents posted today by the National Security Archive, shed light on Operation Crossroads, as does a gallery of videos and photographs.
U.S. Air Force footage of the Baker nuclear explosion test, July, 1946: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8d78s-qtqc
“The Navy, worried about its survival in an atomic war, sought the Bikini tests in order to measure the effects of atomic explosions on warships and other military targets. Named Operation Crossroads by the task force’s director, Rear Admiral William Blandy, the tests involved a fleet of 96 target ships, including captured Japanese and German warships. Both tests gave the U.S. military what it sought: more immediate knowledge of the deadly effects of nuclear weapons.
“The U.S. Navy’s early March 1946 removal of 167 Pacific islanders from Bikini, their ancestral home, so that the Navy and the Army could prepare for the tests, is also documented with film footage. The Bikinians received the impression that the relocation would be temporary, but subsequent nuclear testing in the atoll rendered the islands virtually uninhabitable.
“Observers from the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, including two from the Soviet Union, viewed the Crossroads tests from a safe distance. Recently declassified documents shed light on the emerging Cold War atmosphere; one of the observers, Simon Peter Alexandrov, who was in charge of uranium for the Soviet nuclear project, told a U.S. scientist, Paul S. Galtsoff, that while the purpose of the Bikini test was “to frighten the Soviets,” they were “not afraid,” and that the Soviet Union had “wonderful planes” which could easily bomb U.S. cities.”